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Top Gear Philippines

Toyota Altis of the slain Kristelle

The photo you see above--posted by GMA News Online--shows the Toyota Altis of the slain 25-year-old advertising executive Kristelle "Kae" Davantes, who was abducted by five men after she got out of her car upon reaching her house in Las Piñas to open the gate. Forced back inside her own car, now driven by one of the men, Davantes was ruthlessly stabbed several times until she died. Her body was dumped in Silang, Cavite.

One of the five men, who is now in the custody of the NBI, says they had no plans of killing the victim and that they were only after her money and other possessions--possibly including the car. According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, the hooligans had been driving around in a subcompact sedan inside Davantes's subdivision looking for a random target, when they chanced upon the Altis owner, who was alone and in the process of opening the gate of her house at 2am.

It had been initially thought that Davantes could have been kidnapped at a parking lot inside Bonifacio Global City after emerging from a bar.

Such a senseless act of crime committed by a gang of young men who simply had nothing better to do in life. What happened to Kae could have happened to anyone that night. A clear lesson from this episode is that you really can't be careful enough, especially when you're outside the safety of your home in the wee hours of the morning.

In honor of Kae's memory, we've listed down simple reminders for everyone--particularly female car owners--to heed in order to avoid falling prey to lawless scumbags.

* Tint the windows of your car.

* If your budget permits, install an immobilizer and a GPS tracking device in your vehicle.

* Do not drive through areas notorious for criminal activities.

* Do not park in unlit, isolated or unguarded places.

* When handing over your car to a valet, give only your car key and not the other keys (including your house's) that might be attached to it via a key chain. Also, do not leave any item inside the car that may identify you or your place of residence.

* Do not leave valuables inside your car in open view even if your windows have a dark tint.

* If you can help it, do not drive late at night. If you really must, try to bring company.

* Always inform your parents, your guardian or your partner/spouse of your whereabouts when you're staying out late in the evening.

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* If you're in a bar, see if there's somebody or a group that is suspiciously checking you out. While it's flattering to be admired from a distance, that person could be your assailant.

* Needless to say, do not get yourself drunk--or even mildly tipsy--if you're driving yourself home. You have to keep this in mind not because there now exists the anti-drunk driving law, but because you will need all your faculties functioning well to be able to bring yourself home in one piece.

* When you leave a place and head for your car, be extra mindful of the surroundings. Is someone following you? Are there people milling about your car? If the answer is yes, get someone to accompany you to your vehicle.

* If you have no one to walk you to your car and are certain that there might be danger lurking around, activate your vehicle's alarm system via the remote control (assuming your car has one). This should startle and frighten anyone who could be plotting something.

* If it's safe to do so, give your four tires a quick visual check just to be sure they're adequately inflated.

* Before entering the car, be absolutely sure no one is inside, particularly in the backseat--unless, of course, your friends are riding with you.

* Once inside the car, lock all doors and close all windows.

* On the road, be alert and aware of any vehicle that could be following you. Whatever happens, do not stop by the side of the road in a dark and isolated area even if you have a flat tire--not even if there's a Chris Hemsworth look-alike gesturing you and offering to help. Always look for a well-lit and crowded place to make a pit stop.

* Call someone at home to open the gate for you when you arrive. If you live alone, survey the area first before getting out of the car. Step out only when there is not a shred of doubt that it is safe to do so.

* Keep a pepper spray with you in the car, preferably tucked somewhere within easy reach. Like in the side compartment of the driver-side door.

* Save emergency numbers on your phone. For the record, the Philippine National Police hotline number is 117.

* Finally, should you find yourself in a really scary situation where a robber is already pointing a gun or poking a knife at you, just surrender your car key. Do not attempt to struggle and risk your life for it. We don't care if it's a Lexus LFA you're driving--it's just a car.

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Vernon B. Sarne
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